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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Glenn Beck Show

Mar 21, 2024 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Glenn Beck Show to discuss TikTok. See below for highlights.

On cutting ties between TikTok and ByteDance:

“I’ve been calling for this [sale] since 2019. But having a debate about this is a good thing. The idea that we’re going to ban a company from operating in the United States is not something we take lightly. That’s an extraordinary amount of power you’re putting in the hands of the government. We’ve done it [before]. We did it to Huawei. We don’t want Chinese telecommunication companies operating in the U.S., because we know they pose a security risk. Whether there’s evidence they’re doing it or not, the capability to do it is unacceptable. 

“We know for a fact that China wants to become the world’s most powerful country. Part of that strategy is to destroy America not just from the outside in, but from the inside out. And part of that is narratives to distract us, put Americans to fight against each other. We do a good enough job as it is, because we’re a free people. But they would exacerbate that, spreading all kinds of disinformation to divide us against each other, but also to further Chinese objectives. For example, [they would] convince us that it’s a good thing that things are made in China because they’re cheaper and so forth. We know that [about China] for a fact.” 

On the issues with TikTok’s algorithm being owned by ByteDance:

“The issue [with TikTok] is not the app. The issue is not what people are saying on the app. The issue is that that app and what drives the videos you see, what makes TikTok so successful, is the AI algorithm that literally reads your mind. The more you use it, the more it learns what you like, the more it knows what you like before you even know you like it. This is a very valuable algorithm. That algorithm is not owned by TikTok. That algorithm belongs to a company named ByteDance, and all of their engineers are headquartered in China. 

“Like every company in China, they have to do whatever the government of China tells them to do. It doesn’t matter who’s on their board, it doesn’t matter who the shareholders are, China has a national security law that basically says straight out, ‘If we tell you you have to give us data, use your algorithm this way, you have to do it.’ They don’t have a choice. Jack Ma, the richest man in China, tried to test [the Chinese regime] one day and argued, ‘I’m the richest person in China, I’m allowed to have opinions.’ He disappeared for 30 days. He no longer lives in China. 

“We know that [the leaders of the Chinese regime] want to divide our country. And we know that a company that has to do whatever their government tells them to do controls an algorithm that, in a moment of crisis or leading up to a crisis, could be weaponized against us very quickly, by driving messages to convince us [of pro-China positions]: ‘Call your member of Congress and tell them not to support tariffs, because that means you’re going to have to pay more for the clothes you buy, the cheap stuff you buy at Walmart or Amazon, or even on SHEIN or one of these Chinese websites.’ Whatever the issue may be, it’s a weapon.

“We know the Chinese, for example, want to hack our power plants. They work every single day to get access to our power plants. They’re not going to shut off our power today. But we know that they’re sitting there, waiting to do it, just like they have missiles that are aimed at the United States. They’re not launching them, but they plan to if there’s a war. We know that a threat exists. We have to address it. The threat here is not TikTok per se. It’s the algorithm. My goal is to ensure that no matter who owns that algorithm, it cannot be a company that is subject to the national security law of China. It doesn’t have to be owned by an American, it doesn’t have to be owned by someone we like, it doesn’t have to be owned by someone we agree with.”

On the argument that banning TikTok doesn’t address the problems with Big Tech: 

“I have huge problems with the way Google operates. They’ve discriminated against me during my campaign. I know they did. I have huge problems with the concentration of power in the hands of Big Tech in America. The answer to that problem includes allowing us to be able to sue these companies, because they have editorial control. They’re not just a forum. They control what messages get out. They censor things like the New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. They should be able to be sued for that. But the answer to that problem is not to say, ‘Until we solve that, we can’t deal with the fact that the most powerful foreign adversary we have ever faced controls an algorithm that drives the fastest growing social media platform in America.’ That’s not the answer to the problem of Google and Facebook and Meta.”

On ensuring the TikTok bill addresses China while also preventing its abuse:

“I think this [TikTok] law will probably be amended or changed. Some of the things that people will look at are any potential vulnerabilities, because we live in an era where we have to assume the worst, that any word you write in legislation could be misused now or in the future. 

“We’re not banning videos on TikTok that are pro-China. People will continue to be able to put anything they want on TikTok. That’s not what the law would ban. What the law would ban is ownership of the algorithm by a company controlled by a foreign adversary. No matter who it is, whether it’s Tucker or anybody else, they have a First Amendment right to whatever opinion they have. And people can continue to use TikTok if ByteDance sells to somebody else. This law does not ban people from going on TikTok and saying, ‘We think China is better than America.’ I can criticize them for doing it. That’s what the First Amendment allows me to do in return. But [this bill] wouldn’t ban pro-China messaging. It’s the algorithm that we’re aiming at here, not that. 

“The other thing is that the law, the way it’s written, says the ownership has to be domiciled in a foreign country, and not just any foreign country, but a foreign adversary. But I’m more than happy to narrow this down to companies subject to the national security law of the Communist Party of China, because I think that’s what we’re saying that would be.

“We live in this era where there are people whose hunger and thirst for power allows them to break every barrier, cross every guardrail we’ve ever had in respect for our republic. So, I have no problem with being as paranoid as possible on how we write this law [regarding TikTok]. But we have to deal with this threat we face from China, because it’s a real threat. Their goal is to destroy the United States.”